John 17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
It is easy to stumble trying to get our heads around the perichoretic relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit revealed here. But it is more important to get our heads into it; to experience and enter into it as best we can. Jesus’ prayer challenges our understanding of the persons-hood of God, and yet he is praying us into their midst, to share in him. The persons of God dwell in one another in a way that there is union without loss of individual identity (perichoresis). This dynamic unity is founded on love and the mutual giving of glory. And as Jesus looks down through history at all who will believe in him through the apostles testimony, he prays us all into the midst of God’s persons: that we will be united, sharing his glory, and testifying to the world that Jesus came from the Father.
The closing two verses of Jesus’ prayer highlight a key part of his mission: to reveal the Father. Jesus did come to save humanity, but furthermore, he understands that this same mission requires him to make the Father known to his disciples. Jesus shows us God. He is the Word of God, addressing us. He is the light of God, shining in the darkness. He makes God the Father known. And according to v26, this action intends that the love the Father has for the Son may be in us, and that Jesus himself may be in us.
Heavenly Father, contemplating Jesus’ prayer for me is overwhelming. Though I can’t grasp its implications fully, please enable me to enter further into the relationship you share with the Son and the Spirit. May I grasp how wide and long and high and deep your love is; and may I know this love surpassing knowledge, that I may be filled with all of your fullness. Amen.